Wednesday, June 11, 2014

Spano v. Perini Corp. case brief summary

Spano v. Perini Corp. case brief summary
( Court of Appeals of New York, 1969)

Case Facts
— Spano owned a garage which was wrecked by a blast on November 27, 1962. On that date the second plaintiff’s car was in the garage and received damage. The plaintiffs sought damages from the two defendants who were blasting for a tunnel in the vicinity on that day. The plaintiffs did not show negligence on the part of the defendants but relied on absolute liability (Absolute Liability doctrine: Blaster is absolutely liable for any damages he causes, even without negligence)

Procedural History— The Civil court of New York rendered a verdict in favor of the plaintiffs without a jury. The Appellate Term reversed the judgment and that decision is being appealed by the plaintiffs. 
 
Issue—Should a person who sustains property damage caused by blasting on nearby property be awarded damages without showing negligence by the blaster? WHO SHOULD BEAR THE COST OF RESULTING DAMAGE OF BLASTING?

Holding— The intentional setting off of explosives in an area where it is likely to cause harm to neighboring property results in absolute liability without the show of negligence. They must bear the cost of the damage to the plaintiff’s property
 
Reasoning— Court cites other states policies of absolute liability in regard to blasting as well as previous cases in state. Because of the highly and abnormally dangerous nature of dynamite, the rule which exonerates a party engaged in a lawful business, when free from negligence, has no application. Not trying to keep the defendant from blasting, only to recover damages incurred from blasting. Absolute liability on blaster for the damage incurred. Defendant must bear the costs.

Judgment/ Resulting Rule — Reversed. Blasting is ultra-hazardous activity, results in strict liability. Blasting is acceptable but blasters must bear the cost. Higher level of care.

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